New York City Council member Robert Holden recently celebrated the street co-naming of 53rd Drive in Maspeth after lifelong resident George O’Neill.
O’Neill owned and operated O’Neill’s Restaurant and Grill for 88 years. The restaurant was opened by O’Neill’s father the day after Prohibition ended on Dec. 5, 1933.
O’Neill turned what used to be called Plateau Tavern into a full restaurant when he came back from a tour of duty as a cook in Hawaii in 1956. The restaurant is still operating today.
O’Neill died in 2018 at the age of 83. The restaurant at 64-21 53rd Dr. posted a statement on Facebook following his death:
“When you walked into O’Neill’s, everyone knew him and he knew everyone right back. He was the best husband, best father, best grandfather and best friend to all,” the post read. “George, you will be missed. You put up a good fight. We love you.”
Holden said he was extremely proud to co-name this street for O’Neill.
“Not only did he start one of the most popular and longest-running businesses in the district, but he was devoted to serving his community,” Holden said. “He raised tremendous amounts of money for many worthy causes and organizations. He was a credit to our district and his legacy lived on in his family.”
George O’Neill was a friend to the NYPD, FDNY, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. His restaurant was the site of numerous community fundraisers for these organizations and local nonprofits. It is also a staple in the neighborhood for family occasions.